Two Koreas get phone link

North and South Korea' s first-ever telephone link, connecting the South with the North's Kaesong Industrial Complex, has led to South Korea lobbying for a massive expansion of the service...

North and South Korea' s first-ever telephone link, connecting the South with the North's Kaesong Industrial Complex, has led to South Korea lobbying for a massive expansion of the service.

But the key question is whether the US and North Korea will overcome their long standing concerns and agree to expansion of the link. If so, the current basic telephony service could be developed to deliver high-speed Internet access and mobile telephony services.

Key player will be Korea Telecom (KT), which runs the fixed-line link to Kaesong . KT has already had its share of radical change, having been fully privatised in 2002.

It faces two obstacles - the nod from the North and assent from America . The former is always cautious about opening up the country to the outside world, and from its point of view any such link will require substantial monitoring. The latter has to satisfy itself that export administration regulations allow for the transfer of both Internet infrastructure and of computers and telecoms gear which can be converted for military use and which contain 10% US technology or parts.

KT starts from a position of strength as South Korea 's main high-speed Internet carrier and number two in CDMA mobile. Optical fibre was extended to Kaesong last July. And yet KT still needs a licence from Pyongyang and, from the USA , the right to export the requisite components to the North.

 In KT's favour is the fact that as only about 10% of the link's capacity is now being used for telephone links the remaining 90% can provide high-speed Internet for little further investment. 

More info: